Kountze students seek TRO - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Students seek right to display religious banners


Kountze cheerleader Ashton Lawrence gets a standing ovation when she catches up with her church family at Journey Community Church in Lumberton. 

So do her parents. 

The three are fighting for Ashton and her cheerleading squad to continue writing biblical verses on banners at football games. 

"I love my parents, without them the team would not have decided to make the banners in the first place," Ashton said.
 "The message needs to be where people can see it, that's first. And we believe they have the right," Chris Lawrence said of his daughter and her cheer mates.  

The Lawrence's are looking at Beaumont Attorney David Starnes to help protect that right. Starnes joined the cause saying the cheerleaders were never trying to hurt anyone. 

"I think these are biblical verses that are good. They simply wanted to bring a positive message rather than an angry or competitive message," Starnes said. 

But the separation of church and state brings questions to the table. Our nation's bill of rights say "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion," but Liberty Institute says don't forget the other half of that.

"Or prohibiting the free exercise there of."

"The law is very well established. So long as the speech, be it religious in matter or otherwise, if it is led by the students which in this it certainly was, then it is constitutional," Michael Johnson with Liberty Institute said. 

While the attorneys fight the courtroom battle, the Lawrence's say the real battle is in bigger hands. 
"To God be the glory" Ashton said. 

Johnson says Liberty Institute has won 99% of their cases like this one over the past 15 years. 

He says the cheerleaders are in the right because the supplies to make the signs came from the girls, not the school district.

Starnes says he has been talking to several parents of cheerleaders. He says he believes the school district simply misunderstood the student's rights.

Liberty Institute is a national organization dedicated to fighting for religious freedoms in the United States.